Pick n Pay has launched monthly People n Planet Beach Clean-Ups which will see the retailer partner with local organisations across the country to drive public awareness for plastic waste and action for responsible disposal.
While the primary goal is to clean up and preserve the country’s coastlines, the initiative hopes also to inspire recycling behaviour to avoid unnecessary plastic pollution entering the environment in the first place, which often lands up in the ocean for years unless it washes up on a beach.
The inaugural PnP Beach Clean-Up took place this past weekend at Muizenberg in Cape Town in partnership with the Beach Co-op and the Western Province Bodyboarding Association.
In just two hours, 211 kg of rubbish was collected by 163 volunteers.
The volunteers are equipped to track the rubbish they collect, and it quickly becomes evident to volunteers how small behaviour changes can minimise a significant amount of rubbish in the environment.
The top three ‘rubbish offenders’ were sweet wrappers (1,563), followed by colddrink lids (1,191) and lollypop sticks (731). The other items making the “Dirty Dozen” list included fishing wire, glow sticks, PET water bottles, colddrink bottles, earbud sticks, straws, plastic bags, chip packets, and cigarette lighters.
“Much of the rubbish collected could have been disposed of correctly and/or recycled,” says Andre Nel, Pick n Pay’s General Manager for Sustainability.
According to the United Nations, 13 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year.
Last year, Pick n Pay announced its plastic waste reduction initiatives which saw the retailer introduce alternatives to single-use plastic items for its customers.
“We launched our PnP paper inner earbuds which is now our bestselling earbud pack in-store. All plastic straws have been replaced by paper straws at our kiosks and we successfully trialled an affordable R5 reusable bag and netted fruit & vegetable bag which will be rolled out to most stores later this year,” says Nel.
They also switched to their new blue 100% recycled and recyclable plastic bag which will keep 2,000 tonnes of plastic out of the environment every year. This equates to 400 garbage trucks.
Nel says that they will continue to challenge their customers to refuse the bag and reuse instead. “In April, we gave away 250,000 reusable bags and began informing Smart Shopper customers about their plastic bag purchasing behaviour.”
“Consumers are increasingly becoming more educated about the harm that plastic can do to our environment. But if we want a meaningful shift, we need to reinforce a message of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Much of the litter that feeds into our oceans could have been recycled, reused or repurposed,” concludes Nel.
The next PnP Beach Clean-Up with take place this World Ocean Day, 8 June 2019. Pick n Pay will co-host beach clean ups with Sustainable Seas Trust in PE & Nature Valley Trust in Plettenberg Bay. For more details about upcoming PnP Beach Clean-Up locations, please visit www.facebook.com/PnPPeoplenPlanet/.